The Stuff of 2011: Fred Penner at the Drake

Saturday night the Drake Hotel during Canadian Music Week isn't exactly the time and place you expect to find a children's entertainer. But this year, that's exactly where you would have found Fred Penner, playing a set that was easily one of our fondest memories of the entire year.

The room of jaded music-festival-types was transformed the moment he took the stage to the nostalgic chords of the Fred Penner's Place theme song. As we said at the time: "Right in the heart of hipsterdom, where a band usually has a hard time getting anyone to do more than nod their heads along to the beat, people were acting out the motions to songs they hadn't heard in twenty years, loudly counting together in unison, pledging to never ever ride a bicycle with their eyes closed, and gleefully singing along to choruses they had no idea they still knew the words to. 'Sandwiches are beautiful! Sandwiches are fine! I like sandwiches I eat them all the time! I eat them for my super and I eat them for my lunch! If I had a hundred sandwiches I'd eat them all at once!'...

"Far too soon came his big finale: 'The Cat Came Back'. The entire audience sang along; whole-heartedly meowed in all the right places. By the time it was over, some people had tears in their eyes.

"And then we spilled back out onto Queen Street, each one of us just a little more innocent than when we'd gone in."


You'll find the rest of our "Stuff of 2011" posts here. If there's something you enjoyed this year that you'd like to share, write something about it and email it to us at by December 21. We'll post some of our favourites.

Fred Penner's set at the Drake was chosen by Adam Bunch, the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and was practiced by the entire staff. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


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